Jeffrey LewisReflections of A Nuclear Weaponeer

Most readers probably know how much I love books and that I have amassed a formidable library of rare books relating to nuclear weapons.  There are some holes in the collection, though and Frank Shelton’s privately printed memoir, Reflections of a Nuclear Weaponeer, is one of them.

A copy of Reflections of a Nuclear Weaponeer is available for sale on Amazon.

At $1,745, this one is way out of my league — once every couple of years I might spend a few hundred dollars on something especially hard to find, but that’s it.  If you can shell out the dough, though, you’ll probably never see another hard copy for sale.

(I sent Shelton a note once asking whether he might have a copies for sale.  He answered with a rude reply about all the people who keep bothering trying to buy a copy of his book.  I now have an electronic scan somewhere.)

Anyway, if you buy this copy, just invite me over to play with it one day.


  1. anon (History)

    Gatsby had a really Great library.

  2. spigwin (History)

    What’s his problem? Why write a book if you don’t want people to read it.

  3. Alex W. (History)

    Harvard has a copy in their stacks, which I spent some time looking at awhile back.

    It’s a very odd book — maybe 3/4ths somewhat well-worn history, and the other 1/4th being unique, individualized narrative about weapons testing, if I recall. In that sense, it somewhat reminds me of _Nuclear Express_, which has a very similar feel to it in terms of style: not quite straight autobiography, not quite straight history, somewhat choppy on the editing.

    • Carey Sublette (History)

      Most of the text that is not Shelton’s actual recollections or direct commentary is lifted verbatim from government reports.

  4. nukeman (History)

    I have a signed copy of both of his books at home and if you’re ever this way, I’ll be glad to let you look at this and much more in my extensive collection of nuclear related material.

  5. Carey Sublette (History)

    I have original copies of Chuck Hansen’s “U.S. Nuclear Weapons”, Winterberg’s “The Physical Principles of Thermonuclear Explosive Devices”, and the above mentioned Shelton book. All of these have been offered in recent years for over $1000 on-line.

    Of these three, I have been considering selling my copy of Winterberg since I also have a scan – and the physical copy adds little or nothing (books with glossy photographs are different).

  6. Chris Griffith (History)

    We should start a collection to pool our funds and buy it as a sharable version…

    • John Schilling (History)

      A Wonkish library would be a wondrous thing indeed, though the argument over where it would be sited might be interesting.

      More generally, what public or quasi-public libraries are there with good collections in this field?

    • krepon (History)

      I have had difficulty giving books away to university libraries. And donating heavy boxes of books to NGOs and libraries abroad is prohibitively expensive.

    • Carey Sublette (History)

      A Wonkish library would be a wondrous thing indeed, though the argument over where it would be sited might be interesting.

      I’ll bet my collection is as good as any outside of a government institution.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      I bet that it is, with the qualification that I may have a better selection of China items.

  7. Walt Slocombe (History)

    Sounds like a lot of self-published books! Available at a reasonable price, and very informative, is Admiral Jerry Miller’s, “Stockpile:the story behind 10,000 strategic nuclear weapons.”

  8. Daniel Pinkston (History)

    Are you sure it’s not “new Taiwan dollars?”

  9. nukeman (History)

    I’ve read Nuclear FEQ and its an amazing piece of work. It’s ashame that there’s not more interest in the accurate scientific aspects of proliferation. I would bet that I probably have one of the largest collections of scientific and technical information around. My collection of Iran material is extremely extensive and goes back many years.

  10. George William Herbert (History)

    If one were seeking a library location, MIIS / CNS might work, if only someone we knew had an in there to coordinate it….

    Of course, I’m only thinking of that because it’s a pleasant and practical drive distance from home, but it actually makes some sense.

  11. Dan A (History)

    Uhh, can the guys bragging about their huge collections of ridiculously rare/expensive books do something useful and get them scanned and uploaded to the internet so we can all read them? Just a thought.

    • Jeffrey (History)

      That is an enormous investment of time and money, as well as a copyright infringement lawsuit waiting to happen.

      Don’t think we aren’t emailing each other, though.

      What we really need is a physical library that can make materials available. The National Security Archive is great, but this is something else — a complete collection of hard to find resources for the dedicated arms control wonk.